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Monday, December 15th, 2008 at 1:37 pm  |  57 responses

Why Mo Cheeks Was Fired

What now? I have some ideas.

by Khalid Salaam

The truth is Cheeks was struggling. Regardless of anything else and anyone else and the other components of the tea, Maurice Cheeks was struggling. When news broke Saturday afternoon, my initial thought was not of surprise but of expectation. I have been talking about this for a couple of weeks, so this wasn’t exactly shocking. Yes, it was early and you have to be patient. But the rotations weren’t set, and it’s Week 7 of the season. Cheeks seemed to struggle with in-game adjustments and, at times, seemed overwhelmed with figuring out how best to use his players.

If not now when? Wait another month? Wait out the season? I would have been fine with any of those options, but I understand why he was let go. But I don’t understand why the Sixers fired him without a viable second option. Assistant GM and VP Tony DiLeo. Really? I sat frozen in front of the TV when that name scrolled across the screen. Do not tell me we made the stupid mistake of letting a guy go when we don’t have a plan of how to replace him. The Assistant GM? I mean come on, what does that mean? How will we get better coaching from a guy who never coached an NBA game in his life? This is a guy whose coaching experience begins and ends at coaching in Germany in the 70s and 80s. That’s the plan? So are we better or worse than we would have been with Cheeks? If you have to ask, the answer probably is, ‘No.’ Should I, as a fan, feel good about this?

Well, I don’t. But I’m trying to remain positive. It’s still December, so thoughts about next year are not even on the forecast. Damn next year. I’ll deal with the 2009-10 season Young Youngwhen it gets here. The plan now is to get this team rolling. I don’t have any NBA coaching experience either but f*ck it, here’s what I would do.

1. Run plays for Thad Young
I was infuriated by Mo Cheeks’ cavalier attitude toward running plays for Thaddeus Young. He was always bragging about how clever and talented Young is and how he gets points without scripted plays being run for him. He acted like whatever points Young gave were gravy, and not focusing on Young didn’t matter in the scheme of things. Young is averaging 13 and 5 on 47 percent from the field. He easily has the most upside of any player on the team. He is athletic and plays intelligently. He has a very solid body so he’ll always be a good rebounder. He should be no less than the second option. Not developing Young’s game is the main reason why Cheeks got fired. And it was the biggest mistake he made, bar none. For DiLeo or whoever takes over, making Young a go-to player should be the top priority.

2. Call Minnesota
Do it right now. Get Mike Miller. We need a shooter so bad, it’s not even funny. The whole point of getting Elton Brand was to allow for spacing so guys could knock-down open threes or at least lightly contested ones. Well the Sixers are shooting 29 percent from the three and 43 percent from the field and scoring 93 points per game. The Sixers broke the 100-point mark seven times. You know what that tells me? Not having a real two guard on the roster is dumb.

3. Dre Dala: Just relax!
Speaking of which. I never hate on a man for his money. If a guy gets a big contract and then craps the bed, hey, it is what it is. But I will criticize a guy for his play. Seriously, Andre Igoudala is making Sixer games hard to watch. He’s playing a listless, ignorant brand of hoops. He can’t shoot and is all of a sudden reluctant to drive to the basket. His defense is slipping. I’ve seen dudes get buckets on him way too easy this year. It’s disappointing.

And he doesn’t look for Thad. It’s like he doesn’t want him to take his shine or something. Granted, Thad has to demand the ball more, but he’s only 20. Iguodala is the vet, he should help him and stop hating. Jealousy is a weak trait, and I expect better from him. Right now, I respect Rod Blagojevich more than Dre Dala. Dude, shake off the anxiety. Don’t feel bad cause you got paid. You’re playing tight. You’re making Andy Reid look like Barack Obama. Relax and just drive to the hole.

4. Trade Dalembert
Sam Dalembert’s basketball IQ is really, really low. And that confuses the hell out of me. If anyone needs to go, it’s probably him. If he has to stay OK, play Marreese Speights more. He’s young and prone to mistakes like any rook, but he’s talented and gets better the more he plays. He makes smarter decisions than Dalembert even though Sammy is the vet.

5. Focus on role players
It’s too easy to hate on Brand. His numbers are down slightly, but I think he’ll be OK. My beef is not with him. Andre Miller either. They’ll both get better once the rest of the team does.

See ya coach.

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  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    You’re right about needing a shooter. Maybe Kyle Korver would be a good fit?

  • http://coco-vents.blogspot.com Co Co

    We tried to tell you Khalid.

  • ciolkstar

    Get THADDEUS YOUNG more looks!

  • ciolkstar

    Don’t resign Andre Iguodala to an inflated deal and don’t give max money to an aging and oft-injured overacheiver. Oops, too late.

  • neaorin

    Iguodala for Miller straight up. Something’s got to give, otherwise where do you play Miller?

  • illydiva

    Kha, I was as baffled as you by the Tony DiLeo selection. WTF?! This is plan B? As the GM, isn’t Tony the guy who gave Iggy all that ridiculous money? Donyell Marshall is no Kyle Korver, but if he’s the only deep threat we have, then he should be playing every night (especially against his former teams). I feel bad for Mo as a former Sixer (Steve Mix too), and he will always get love in Philly; but he wasn’t moving the team forward.

  • http://coco-vents.blogspot.com Co Co

    When you look at the top five players on the roster and you can point out more bad than good about 4 of them, is there really a lot any new coach can do?

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com H to the Izzo

    You know who’d make every Sixers player an all-star?Chris Paul.He did it with the scrub that was David West.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Khalid Salaam

    Co Co explain?

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Cheryl

    HIRE PAUL SILAS!!! I’ve been touting dude for a couple of years now as a great development coach for a young team. I thought he’d be perfect for Memphis and Atlanta (although Woodson’s doing a decent job there) and I think he’d fit in Philly. He’ll lose his players in about 3 years, but until then, he’d be great for this team.

  • WhaHuh

    because they overpaid Dalembert, Iggydala and Elton Brand

  • http://coco-vents.blogspot.com Co Co

    True story, Saturday my friend KJ said “Why did Mo Cheeks get fired”? I said because they can’t fire the players. Mo is not the greatest coach, but he doesn’t have the greatest roster either. I told you they didn’t have any outside shooting in your preview before the season. The players today are the same players from before the season more or less. You knew what you were, or shall I say weren’t going to get from Sammy. Iggy is who he is, its probably just a coincidence that he was better last year because he was playing for a contract. That almost never happens ;) The roster is jsut good enough to be a 7th or 8th seed. Another coach is not going to change that.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    It’s an interesting time for former Slam Diary writers.

  • http://hibachi20.blosgpot.com Kid Presto

    Thad is the future. Iggy should be “now” but he is confused.

  • http://hibachi20.blosgpot.com Kid Presto

    Lou Williams needs to step up his game as well.

  • Vududaddy

    Preach, brotha! Preach! (clap clap) I couldn’t have said it better myself. I’m so sick and tired of people giving Mo Cheeks a pass for his transgressions. While he may not have been the full problem, he sure didn’t help with his baffling in game decisions. The man didn’t have a clue as to how to run this team and how he used Thad was just plain stupid. Hopefully this team can get on track with better understanding of their roles and better coaching(I may be reaching here)

  • http://www.where-basketball-b-longs.blogspot.com/ B. Long

    Ryan beat me to the Korver comment. A.I. at the two would be a good look for them, but that probably wouldn’t happen til next year. Bring on the lottery balls!

  • http://coco-vents.blogspot.com Co Co

    they could draft Curry to take care of that outside shooting problem. ;)

  • http://hibachi20.blosgpot.com Kid Presto

    ^^smart idea.

  • Vududaddy

    In reference to what Co Co said: he may not have been the greatest coach but he wasn’t a good one either. He allowed players to go outside their roles waaaay too much ie Sam Dalembert taking fadeaway 18 footers. Miller gunning more than passing. Come on. That is not their roles and they were continuously allowed to do it. There was rarely spacing to allow Brand to work plus no cutting room for slashers like Ig and Thad. This team cant shoot I agree but sometimes a good coach realizes his personnel and utilizes it to it’s fullest. Cheeks did not.

  • http://www.sprint.com/sero Dma

    Hehe a Dalembert-Miller trade for Nelson-Lewis works, except for the whole chemistry thing on Orlando’s side and even more committed money on the Sixers’ side.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    Anyone have Eddie Jordan’s number? BRING BACK PAT CROCE!

  • Vududaddy

    My first time writing here, I may have went overboard haha. After those wall of words I wrote lol, I’ll just say that this team solved one problem. Now they’ve got a lot more to go which most of you pointed out. Hope this year won’t be a complete wash.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Khalid Salaam

    Co Co, Stephen Curry will prob have to play the 1 at the NBA level. So he doesn’t necessarily work. Plus thats next year and i told you i’m not dealing with next year yet. If you think i’ve given up on this season, you are very wrong. The SIxers started out 18-30 last year before they went on a run and made the playoffs so its way too early to jump ship.

  • http://coco-vents.blogspot.com Co Co

    If Steph can get his shot off which I fully believe he can, he’ll work. Plus he’s trying to play the 1 now so he’s willing to at least try to make himself NBA ready. But anyway, the Sixers could still make the playoffs they just won’t win those 52 games you thought they would.

  • http://slamonline.com/ Ryne Nelson

    Stephen Curry: December God of SLAMonline.

  • http://www.where-basketball-b-longs.blogspot.com/ B. Long

    ^LMAO. Can’t say he doesn’t deserve most of the love, Ryne.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Khalid Salaam

    Co Co likes me.

  • illydiva

    @TADOne, this is exactly what I’ve been hearing. Eddie Jordan. Stepanski will see what happens with DiLeo, but Eddie Jordan will be the Sixers coach next season. @Cheryl, I’ve been touting Paul Silas too since his last firing, but I bet Paul told the NBA in no uncertain to kiss his a$$…just cuz I could see him doing it. Does anyone think Mo will get another shot…somewhere?

  • http://coco-vents.blogspot.com Co Co

    :P

  • http://www.slamonline.com Khalid Salaam

    avery johnson?

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    Flip Saunders?

  • http://coco-vents.blogspot.com Co Co

    They need to start with the roster. Improve that first.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    They will still need to hire a permanent coach.

  • illydiva

    I heard they won’t be doing it this year. Unless DiLeo manages to make things worse.

  • http://slamonline.com Tzvi T

    I wouldn’t be overly suprised if by next year Eric Snow is a coach, A. Mckie is an assistant (if he’s not traded again), and Herb Brown and another elder statesmen are brought in to help out.

    Or they could just hire Thom Thibedau out of Beantown, but I dont think he fits the personality of the team.

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com Moose

    I gotta say, true that to number 4. Dalembert is averaging 5.8 points and 8.3 rebounds, not quite satisfactory for him.

  • http://slamonline.com Tzvi T

    Look at three of the last 10 (dont know exact figure) coaches fired in Philly (in-season infact): Cheeks, Ayers, and Lucas. What do they have in common? Maybe im imagining it, but could that be a factor in their firings?

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    I knew Lynam and O’Brien were black!

  • kracka0476

    Hit the road Cheeks and dont you come back no Mo no MO no MO!!!!

  • Pingback: Monday Afternoon Fantasy Basketball Roundup: Two More Coaches Fall | Quite to the Contrary

  • David

    I was thinking Avery, too. Don’t know how he’d do with this squad, but it might be interesting. I think Avery wuold do a better job with the OKC Bandits, actually.

  • ciolkstar

    “And he (Iguodala) doesn’t look for Thad. Its like he doesn’t want him to take his shine or something…”

    I said this verbatim on the site two weeks ago. There were a couple Nationally televised 76ers games and I was excited to watch Thad. Instead I got to see Iguodala ignore him repeatedly on the break. Thad is possibly one of the most atheletic finishers in a league of super atheletic finishers. I’m certain that Iggy is worried that Thad is becoming the guy who gets the huge dunks and highlights, while Igyy starts to slow down. The problem is Iguodala never bothered to work on that jumper in the offseason. Choosing instead to go to LeBron’s NBA fashion camp.

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com/ BETCATS

    FREE PAUL SILAS FROM HIS IMPRISONMENT OF NOT COACHING.

  • jaymes

    IMO Mo got fired cause he couldn’t get Brand shots in the area’s he likes to take shots in. Everything on offense, unless it’s out on the break should be going through Brand the way Elton likes it.He has been innefective because of Mo’s inability to figure his main man out.

  • Young C

    ^Actually, Thad is not a very good finisher on fast breaks. Several times this season his been on a fast break and instead of dunking it or getting a foul he avoids contact and lays it up, sometimes missing or traveling. Hes much better in the half court. Iguodala has been the opposite.

  • Young C

    And I have to disagree with Khalid on one point. Andre Miller should be the one being considered to be traded and there are several reasons: 1)His contract is up at the end of the season. You dont want to risk losing someone like that for nothing. 2)He’s 34 years old. Im not sold on re-signing a 34 year old point to a long term contract. 3)He’s lacks in the two areas that we need in a point gaurd who can compliment Elton in a pick-n-pop/roll situation which is shooting and first step/quickness. If he were Chauncey then I wouldnt mind keeping for the longer term, but he’s a poor man’s version.

    The Sixers should try and trade him for a younger shooting point gaurd who compliments our defense while strengthening our shooting weakness i.e. Hinrich(when healthy), Felton (rumored to be available), or Bayless(young but loads of potetial).

  • http://www.gaze.com.au AL MASSEY

    The Igoudala part was spot on. I hope he reads this on his own.

  • http://www.hibachi20.blogspot.com Hursty

    Look, I dont see how getting Allen Iverson helps the 76′ers this year or next year B.Long.
    They need perimeter shooters. What happened to Willie Green? Korver is gone now, Curry is in college.
    Trade for Vujacic? What about Kapono?

  • stu

    Hursty, wtf dude are you serious? A.I = Andre Iguodala.. hello? I’m sure they are planning on bringing back Iverson haha..

  • http://sjsu.edu davidR

    a shooter? the sixers have kareem rush. dude can knock 3s down like no other, so howcome he doesnt play?

  • http://www.ravingblacklunatic.blogspot.com Allenp

    Remember when everybody thought Iverson was holding Igoudala and Dalembert back from developing? I do.
    Igoudala has turned into an ineffective gunner, when he should be Scottie Pippen-lite. For that alone, Cheeks had to go. YOu cannot have players doing wack stuff and still be the coach.

  • http://thestartingfive.net Michael Tillery

    It’s as simple as this. Mo Cheeks was fired because he wasn’t Stefanski’s choice. Owner-GM-Coach-PG. If there’s a chink in the chain, heads will roll.

    Stefanski couldn’t fire Cheeks last year because he made it to the playoffs with limited talent–hence the one year extension.

    Because of all the switches the Sixers do on defense, the corner three was left unguarded. I tried to tactfully ask Cheeks questions along these lines but sometimes they would come off as cynical.

    In the Sixers Break out in Transition piece I wrote for the site, you’ll see Stefanski employed the uptempo style that got the Sixers in the playoffs last year. Cheeks also didn’t have a good mixture of personalities on the floor. With the exception of Reggie Evans–who wasn’t playing–the starters had too chill of a demeanor.

    Speights minutes were sporadic and so was Cheeks’ bench. One game he would play 30 minutes and 1 the next. One game Donyell Marshall would play typical bench player minutes and nothing the next–even when they needed threes.

    Cheeks was trying to find a solution but there were also deeper issues developing.

    Stefanski is trying to give DiLeo a cushion to work with with these road cup cakes, so I understand the move now, but we have to wait and see if his plan successfully plays out. I didn’t attend the press conference because of football stuff, but if I was there I would have grilled Stefanski. Why not Jimmy Lynam for the rest of the year? Tony DiLeo last coached in 1990 in a game where Mike DiAntoni was a player in Europe. No NBA or major college coaching experience. There is no interim tag.

  • http://thestartingfive.net Michael Tillery

    It also comes down to Elton Brand imposing serious leadership on the team by his play. He never demands the ball when a play breaks down and gets doubled before the bounce. Elton should be 22 and 12 every night. Lead by example EB.

  • http://www.anarchy69socom.com/ Jake

    As soon as I saw a Sixer’s article then saw by Khalid Salaam I knew some Thad love was soon to follow.

  • Pigott17

    yer the lack of a shooter is hurtn,with andre miller a natural 1 guard,i wont beat round the bush he lacks a great shooting game.

    i beat 76ers managment wishing they kept ashton krover…HELL even gordon giricek

    hrmmmmm mike miller would be abit of an ask mabye….spencer hawes:P

    hay he aint a bad shooter

  • Carlos Gist

    Now,that the 76ers are running ….please bring MO Cheeks back!…..He was the one that got them to this level last year!! WE STILL NEED HIM.

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